PARIS 2024: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

PARIS 2024: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Paris 2024
Paris Olympic logo revealed on the Arc de Triomphe. © Paris 2024

It’s been hailed as the place to be this year. “Paris 2024”. A slogan analogous to “I love New York” or “London is calling”. Paris 2024 promises the most unique Summer Olympic Games. It’s also an event which is overhauling the city’s infrastructure to present a green City of Light to the world. The changes are palpable. Swimming in the Seine? Less cars, more bikes? To cap off the year, the Notre Dame Cathedral will rise from its ashes and open its doors following a devastating fire almost five years ago.

With all this excitement and innovation, Parisians are asking, “Should I stay or should I should I go?”

“France will be the center of the world, and as French people, we can be very proud of that! I really want to be part of the ambiance if I’m lucky enough to find affordable tickets.” – Sophie Spence, London

The buildup to Paris 2024

The French capital began promoting the Summer Olympic Games the day it was awarded hosting duties to the world’s largest sporting event. Right out of the starting blocks, the French announced that these games would be remembered for more than athletic competition. The country would reinvent the Olympic Games by its engagement to reduce carbon, apply sustainability to transportation, food and housing for athletes, and work towards gender parity among athletes, coaches, and workers.

Paris’ mayor, Anne Hidalgo, announced an ambitious and audacious plan to clean the Seine River to hold the 10k swimming portion of the triathlon there this summer and create several public swimming stations as early as 2025. Two major underground transportation lines are being extended to handle the increased influx of visitors to the games. A vast network of electrical terminals will eliminate the use of generators to power the city and reduce the games’ carbon footprint. A water-cooling system installed under the floors of the Olympic Village housing athletes will eliminate the use of energy-consuming air conditioners. France’s top chefs are collaborating on sustainable menus for the 15,000 athletes to showcase healthy gastronomy. French savoir-faire will grace every aspect of the Paris 2024 Games.

The northern working-class suburb of Seine Saint Denis, which is near major competition sites, will benefit from much of the new construction. The Olympic Village will be converted to affordable housing units after the Games. Paris facades are being scrubbed clean.

© Paris 2024

To get you in the mood for Paris 2024

In advance of the games, Paris created a calendar of innovative programming mixing cultural, artistic, and sporting events to showcase the rich heritage of France and to promote the games. This spring, Cultural Olympiad offers a program featuring e-sports, fashion and sports, invitations to dance classes, opera performances and more.

The Louvre Museum joins in the celebration with an exhibition entitled,” Olympism, a Modern Invention, an Antique Heritage”, which will open April 24, 2024.

The Olympic flame lands in Marseille on May 8, 2024, and then embarks on a marathon run throughout France and the overseas territories until it reaches the capital on July 14, the Bastille Day National Holiday. Traversing 12,000 kilometers, the emblematic torch could pass through your neighborhood to great fanfare. The flame will certainly be one of the highlights of the opening ceremony on July 26.

“I applied three times to Paris 2024 in the hopes of becoming a torch runner for the Olympics. I want to be part of this human fraternity chain and I will be proud to be a torch bearer even if I am running through a French village at 3 am!” – Pam Combastet, Paris

© Polymagou / Wikimedia Commons

Traffic jams to make you miserable

As of mid-spring, certain arrondissements or neighborhoods in central Paris where sites are located will be closed to traffic to acclimatize people to restricted access during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Only accredited cars will be able to circulate freely. To balance this, more than 400 bike lanes will be available. Local residents and those who travel by car or metro to work can still get around, but they will need to download an app to consult daily traffic and, most importantly, register their vehicle.

The Grand Paris Express project to expand public transport to avoid congestion has been doing just the opposite. Parisians are familiar with the gridlocks at major rond-points such as Porte Maillot and Place de la Concorde. Construction is visible everywhere. The city streets are dirty, blocked and frustrating. One of the new metro lines that have turned Paris upside down for years will not be ready for the Olympics. Two other existing lines will be successfully extended to connect the north of Paris to the south to Orly airport.

“I dread the crowd and inconveniences such as traffic and security caused by such affluence. I think I want to get away from Paris during the Olympics. – Anne Margiraud, Paris

Visitors to the Paris 2024 games are encouraged to use public transportation and buy tickets online in advance via an app, at double the cost of the usual subway ride. The alternative is to cycle or walk. Taxis are still waiting for their marching orders but drivers are already bitterly complaining about the chaos expected.

The Olympic mascot Phryge promoting the buildup to the French Olympic games. © Paris 2024

Pricey Paris this summer

Do you have a ticket to the 2024 games yet? Touted as the most “open” Olympics ever, ticket prices are soaring out of the reach of average sports fans. It seems as if the opening ceremony on July 26 at 8:30 pm will be reserved for sponsors, families and those who can afford coveted spots along the Seine riverbanks to witness the first-ever opening ceremony outside of a stadium. An extravagant parade of more than a hundred riverboats carrying athletes from around the world will glide towards the Trocadero, past acrobats and dancers on the bridges performing to the music of a floating orchestra.

Are you holding a ticket but still looking for a place to stay? The International Olympic Committee (IOC) swept up a couple of hundred of the city’s best hotels for organizers, delegations and media sponsors. Other smaller hotels are posting rates of 800-1000 euros a night. Some Parisians are quietly renting out their apartments for double, triple, or quadruple the price during the six-week games.

The opening ceremony of the Paris Summer Olympic games will be held outdoors on the Seine River. © Paris 2024

Should I stay or leave Paris this summer?

How often do you live in a city that hosts the Olympics? Even if you don’t have a ticket, you can catch the marathons, road cycling through the streets, and the swimming portion of the triathlon by Pont d’Iena near the Eiffel Tower.

Paris will set up 25 fan zones for the public to watch sports competitions on huge screens, to learn about sports and even meet athletes on site. Major fan zones include the Paris City Hall, the Villette on the east side, and the Trocadero Square, where Champion Park will invite 15,000 supporters daily to meet and greet medal-winning athletes after 5 pm. There are plenty of free fun activities planned. How you get to sites will require meticulous planning to take into account closed metro stations and crowd flows.

Many will want to watch the opening ceremonies along the Seine but the coveted first-row places along the 6-kilometer stretch from Austerlitz bridge, past Notre Dame, the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay to the Trocadero are expensive paid spots. The city promises free tickets for a lucky few in a lottery draw, and higher riverbanks will be open to the public.

Security will be massive and present. The charming bouquinistes or antique book stalls along the Seine are being forced to remove their stands to prevent any hidden security risks.

“It will be wild, crazy and probably very chaotic in Paris but I am looking forward to it. If I do not volunteer, I’ll just roam around the city to see everything. The tickets are too expensive but I hope I will win the lottery for a spot to watch the opening Olympic ceremony.” – Patricia Zraidi, Ile de France

The Grand Palais will host the archery competitions during the Paris 2024 games. © Paris 2024

Visitors should not expect to visit some of Paris’ most famous historical monuments at this time. Paris 2024 will host 25 sports competitions in its iconic buildings or sites: fencing in the Grand Palais, archery at the Les Invalides, modern sports at the Place de la Concorde, and equestrian competition at the Chateau de Versailles. Beach volleyball is on the Champ de Mars next to the Eiffel Tower, which, as of this writing, is supposed to remain open if tourists can make their way to the entrance of the Iron Lady.

Consider visiting France in May or June 2024. The 80th anniversary of the D-Day landing in Normandy will be a poignant commemoration during the first week of June. Only a handful of surviving veterans are expected to attend. Another quintessential French experience is attending the Roland Garros French Open for some smashing tennis between May 9th and June 9th. Or catch the Tour de France cyclists as they race around the country as of June 29th.

The Notre Dame Cathedral spire resurrects itself in the sky, hitting a milestone in restoration work. @ INSPIRELLE

Notre Dame in all its Glory

Fortunately, the Notre Dame Cathedral will grace the skyline with its newly-built spire and glistening gold rooster perched up high. It’s a must-see to appreciate and admire the work of 2000 craftsmen and women, carpenters and artisans who have restored the 800-year-old iconic landmark after a devasting fire in 2019. The doors, however, won’t be open to the public during the Olympic Games. The reopening date is set for December 8, 2024 in time for the next Christmas mass.

The legacy of Paris 2024 will live on long after the Summer Games are over. The IOC so believes in French savoir-faire that they’ve already announced that the French Alps are the frontrunner to host the 2030 Winter Games!



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